Digital Bilston

Gavin, our lecturer, took us out on the tram from Wolverhampton to Bilston Central so we could have a look around the town and take some photos that we might be able to use in our 2100 Project as well as become part of the Bilston Art Project


We got off the tram, which cost less than £3 for a return, and wandered to the fence showing a “Welcome To Bilston” mural, alongside were other artworks that told the story of Bilston. There was a mosaic looking painting that had the words “OW AM YA” hidden in there and there were other murals showing what Bilston is known for.

Ex-Art School

We had a walk to the old Bilston Art School which is in a dilapidated state and Gavin tells us it’ll be refurbished in the next few years hopefully. It’s suffered from the ravages of time and fire since it stopped being used in 1998-ish. It was a well put together building and we were informed that the frontage was now “listed” preventing it from being demolished entirely, so it could eventually be restored to it’s former glory. The frontage is still in remarkable condition when compared to the state of things behind the broken and boarded up windows.

On the way to Mount Pleasant, we noticed things and discussed them together and with Gavin, we talked of the purpose of churches, shops, police stations and music venues etc. What might be their purposes in the future, how much busier would they have been 100 years ago and what does the next century hold in store for these institutions.

Market Mischief

We walked back towards the market and went around the indoor part first before exploring the outdoor stalls. There was an incident where the security guard in the market asked his controller via walkie talkie if there was “an official photographer on site today?” I politely explained that I was from the University of Wolverhampton and after his controller cleared it I asked him if I could take his photo and he agreed. I also thanked him for being vigilant and taking everyone’s safety seriously. He and his colleague were having a giggle and it came across that almost everyone in Bilston is friendly and kind.

I was asked a couple more times why I was taking photos by other stall holders and a couple of people saw me taking pictures and offered up a pose by way of having a laugh.

Looking around the market it seems to be mostly the same types of goods that were on sale when I used to go to the Shrewsbury Market with my Nan in the late 1970’s. There were clothes, underwear, books, music, key-cutting, hardware, meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, sweets, jewellery, school uniforms, carpets and all sorts of usual items. There were not that many additional items compared to 40 years ago, Vapes and vaping fluid along with pipes and bongs would not have been in the markets I walked around as a kid.

Pondering 2100

I wonder then if it will be so very different in the year 2100, people will still need to eat, drink and wear clothes so will these types of marketplaces continue?

Will people still walk around or use personal mobility vehicles like EUCs (Electric Unicycles), what about older people in scooters? Will it be like WALL-E when all humans laze in a relaxer chair watching a screen and being fed and watered?

The outdoor market might be more temperate like Italy’s climate, no need for big waterproof covers and eating and drinking outdoors with more sunscreen.

Another question crossing my mind was will cash still be around? I definitely think so as it’s been in use since pebbles were used thousands ago to trade items. Cybercurrency will be big but for people to buy things on markets it’ll still be required, especially for those on the fringes of society who don’t want their money tied up in big institutions they may not trust. It’s surprising in this day and age that there is still an exceptionally large amount of cash being hoarded in case of electronic systems collapse in the UK. These aren’t “Preppers” like we see in some popular documentaries, just people worried about their future, some with good reason and others who may be a tad paranoid.

British Art Show 9

Once we’d finished in the market we went back to Wolverhampton again and split up, some returning to uni, some to their accommodation, some shopping and I went to the Wolverhampton Art Gallery to look at the second part of the BAS9 Show. I’d previously wandered and wondered around the exhibition based in the Wolverhampton School Of Art building so it was time to see the second part.

There were some interesting artworks in the gallery and some that I have difficulty connecting to. One of the pieces that I found intriguing was the collection of photographs showing different scenes from Northern Ireland during “the troubles” by Conrad Atkinson. “Northern Ireland 1968 – May Day 1975” shows  70 photos and notes displaying advertising hoardings and other apparent notes from young children expressing beliefs that sound very extreme today. It was quite sobering and the way the images are displayed above pages of quotes printed on the colours of the Irish Tricolour  makes me feel it’s a politically biased statement, biased towards the Republican viewpoint. It appears that Atkinson chooses often controversial subjects that contain themes of oppression of a group by others, the posters featured in this exhibition’s photos such as “Don’t Let Children Play With Toy Guns” seems innocent to people not informed about the troubled period of Irish history where this piece of advice is meant to stop young Irish children from being shot by the police or army for seemingly having a weapon.

Northern Ireland 1968 – May Day 1975 1975-6 Conrad Atkinson born 1940 Purchased 2010

“Northern Ireland 1968 – May Day 1975”, Conrad Atkinson

Some of the other pieces in the exhibition were a large number of ceramic cats and a video about the collection titled “Cat-tharsis” (2016/21), created by Andy Holden. It was a bit of a strange one to me until the video looped to the beginning and the story began again, explaining the strangeness of the collection, including many of the pieces originally being foreign holiday souvenirs, when Holden’s gran never left the country. They were all packaged so carefully in newspaper even when it was obvious that they’d had their heads glued back on haphazardly after accidents previously.  Further information and a review of the exhibition by Ruth Millington can be read here


Time for me to gather the pictures together and imagine what they might look like in 78 years time. That’s the next post, thanks for reading.

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